5 Tips on How to Grow Sunflowers in your Garden

Growing sunflower might very easy, even for those who are new to gardening. Not only they will look beautiful, but you will also enjoy the sunflower seeds as snacks when it is time to harvest. If you want to grow the sunflowers in your garden, here are 5 tips that you can follow.

Tips 1: Choosing the Best Site to Plant

Sunflower is basically the easiest flower to plant since it can grow in any type of soil. But, if you want to make them grow better, you can choose the acidic to alkaline or with pH 6.0 to 7.5.

Make sure that the soil drains well because if the soil is too wet, the sunflower will be rotten. You also need to make sure that the sunflower gets enough sun because it is called sunflower for a reason.

Tips 2: Planting the Sunflower to your Garden

You can plant either the seeds or plant, but the plant will grow much faster than the seeds. Before you plant the sunflower, make sure that the soil temperature is warm enough, for around 55 degrees to 60 degrees F.

Give the space for the seeds for at least 6 inches and cover them with at least ¼ inches of soil.

Tips 3: Watering the Sunflower

After you plant the seeds, you need to keep watering them in 7 to 10 days to make the soil moist. The seeds will sprout in the next 10 to 14 days. When the sprout appears, you need to regularly water it in 20 days since it will be very helpful to encourage root growth.

After the plant grows taller, water the sunflower only when the soil is dry. Make sure that you don’t give them lots of water since they won’t grow well.

Tips 4: Taking Care of the Sunflower

The sunflower doesn’t really require a great care and fertilizer. They can grow well up to 6 feet in three months. But, you need to prevent this to happen by giving slow-acting granular fertilizer to encourage bigger flowers.

Then to prevent weeds and give more evaporation, you can spread a thin layer of organic material to the soil, or about 2 to 3 inches. If the sunflower grows more than 3 feet tall, you can add some supports by using stakes. You just need to tie the sunflower loosely to the stakes with soft materials, like cloth.

Tips 5: Harvesting the Seeds

When the harvest time approaches, like when the back of the flower heads have turned into yellow or brown, you can collect the sunflower seeds by cutting the flower heads.

Place it under the sun or hang it to make it dry and you can collect the seeds easily. You can enjoy the seeds for your snacks, or you can plant them again to grow more sunflowers.

Growing the sunflower can be very easy since all you need to do is make sure that you get the perfect place to grow this flower. Besides, you also need to give the best care to the sunflower to make sure they grow perfectly in your garden.


12 Garden Rules from One Generation to the Next

As a first-time gardener, I would have given anything to have had a more experienced gardener teach me and guide me. But as it was, I taught myself from online sources, books, and trial and error. Out of that bootstrap learning, I decided I wanted to give other beginning gardeners a leg up, so they didn’t go into this beautiful world of gardening as blind as I did.

Several months ago, a veteran gardener sent me a list he had created called his “12 Garden Rules.”

With his permission, I share this wise man’s gardening wisdom to you. No matter what your age or experience level of gardening, you are sure to find his advice valuable.

1. The more you give to your garden, the more your garden grows.

I’ve heard it said that the best fertilizer is gardener’s shadow. The more time you spend in your garden, learning what it needs and how your plants grow best, the more your garden will give back to you.

2. Mother nature has the most effect on how your garden grows or does not grow.

When I first started gardening, I wanted to know the right things to do to produce the results I wanted. But that’s not how gardening works. Mother Nature always has the final say. When we adjust our mindset and are ready to go with whatever nature gives us, we will have a lot more peace in how we approach our gardens.

3. Stay organic when it comes to pest and disease control and most of the time on fertilizer.

He goes on to say, “If pests and disease get out of control, throw in the towel and get rid of the problem by removing the plants and proceeding on with Plan B for your next planting.”

While I have committed to stay organic with my pest control and fertilizer, my friend still uses conventional fertilizer sometimes. But he is always testing different organic methods, aiming for the most organic approach possible.

For the home gardener looking to convert to organic, I appreciate his methodical approach.

4. Compost and mulching is a great combination for the garden.

If you’ve been around for long at all, you know that I think both mulch and compost are fantastic for the garden.

5. Be careful on your watering, you can over do it and you can under do it. Same goes with fertilizing.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how much water your plants actually need. You can feel your soil or use a soil meter to help know how much to water. In my experience, we tend to err on the side of over fertilizing.

When you’re working to build your soil by adding organic material year after year, you won’t need as much fertilizer as you think. Testing your soil can be helpful to know what minerals you need and what you don’t need to add.

6. Keep good records on the proper time to plant your garden vegetables.

He goes on to advise, “Be a turtle gardener and do not try to get a jump on your neighboring gardener. Planting too early can lead to less quality fruit and less healthy, possibly frostbitten, stunted, disease-ridden plants.”

The better records I keep, the more I can learn through the years. It helps me to learn when I need to plant certain crops and what I should be watching for from mother nature.

7. Do some research and plant the recommended variety for your area.

Follow up and make good records on the varieties that do best for you.

Especially when we can buy seeds in catalogs and online, we should be careful as we choose which varieties of plants to buy. We want to make sure we get the ideal plants for our climates. Ask in local gardening groups what works for others and test in your own garden.

8. If you possibly can, rotate your same crop families to different locations for each and every year.

I’m still working on this one. There are two main reasons to rotate your crops. First, disease issues because some crops are susceptible to to the same types of disease. Second, nutrients because different crops use different nutrients. Corn, for example, uses a lot of nitrogen so you wouldn’t want to follow corn with another crop that needs a lot of nitrogen.

9. Pay attention to the weather forecast and take proper action needed to protect your plants from damage.

I pay a lot of attention to my 10 day forecast in the early spring. It helps me decide how long to wait to plant my tomatoes and other warm weather crops. It also gives me warning if there’s a chance of a late freeze or frost so I can protect my plants as needed.

10. Plant a cover crop for the winter time on your bare garden spots.

Research cover crops and really consider this one. They can do a lot of good in your garden. I have had good success with ryegrass and hairy vetch. This book, Homegrown Humus, is a great place to start.

11. Plant blooming flowers and herbs near your garden to attract beneficial insects.

We talked a lot about this in this post on companion planting and a little when we discussed organic cabbage worm control. When I was a new gardener, I thought there was a place for the vegetables and a place for flowers and they shouldn’t cross paths. I was very wrong! The more I bring flowers into my vegetable garden, the more beneficial insects come and the less I have to deal with harmful pests.

12. You have to treat your garden like a baby to have a successful garden.

Take daily observation and proper action as needed to correct the detected problem.

I love getting to go out in my garden every day and see what is going on. If you miss a few days, things can get out of hand quickly. So go ahead and stay on top of things and treat your garden like a baby.


I think if all gardeners wrote out our lists of rules like my friend did, we’d all come up with a slightly different list. In fact, my friend was inspired by this one from Farmer Fred. What about you? What “rules” would you include in your list?

Source: journeywithjill.net

Landscape Design: Seven Tips for Beginners

Whether your yard just needs new plantings or a complete refresh, redesigning the landscape can be overwhelming. Here are seven must-know landscape design tips for the perfect garden.   If you’ve never tackled a landscape design before, you might be overwhelmed by all the choices you can make. But, if you think of it as a room inside your home, it makes it a lot easier. The same principles that guide your room setup inside should guide your designs outside, too. You know how to put together a room—so your landscape should be no problem! Here are seven landscape design ideas for beginners.

flower garden patio area outdoor table

1. Determine Landscape Needs and Wants

Make a list of needs and wants. Do your kids need a play space? Do you want to grow vegetables? Would your family gather on a patio? Do some very rough sketches of the yard with thoughts of where you want to place things; it’s a great organizing principle for landscape design for beginners. They don’t need to be master plans. They can just be ideas, a few lines and a couple of circles. You can easily play around with ideas without a lot of time and commitment.

2. Think About Location

Study the sun and wind patterns. You might want to place a patio on the west side of the house, but it will get lots of afternoon sun, which means dinnertime in August won’t be relaxing—just hot. And wind whistling around a corner will quickly extinguish a fire pit. Those are common mistakes in backyard landscape design for beginners. Your design should take into account what the sun and wind do at different times of the day and year.

3. Sit Down and Enjoy Your Landscape

Live with it for a while. Coming to quick conclusions about your yard can lead to choices that don’t work in the long term. After spending more time outdoors, you’ll start to see areas where you want to go and sit that you wouldn’t have thought of at first.

4. Start Small

Home and garden television shows are masters at revealing complete outdoor makeovers in just three days—but they have a crew of 60, which is not a situation enjoyed by most beginner gardeners. Part of creating a landscape is slowly developing a plan and enjoying the process. From your master plan, start with a small flower bed. Go out and work on it for an hour or two when you have the time and worry less about filling everything up right away. Take your time, so you don’t take shortcuts or get too sloppy with your DIY landscape design.

5. Find a Focal Point

Any good garden design has a focal point or series of focal points, and it’s an easy principle to put in place in landscape design for beginners. That may be a sculpture or a stunning plant, a tree, or a series of shrubs. Let the design draw your eyes around the landscape.

6. Focus on Scale and Pacing

It’s the trickiest principle in landscape design for beginners, but scale and pacing give your yard a pulled-together look. There will be variations in size, shape, and color, with tall plants against a building or in the back of a flowerbed, and paths that lead people through the space. It’s about the importance of finding a good balance between repetition and new elements. Repetition gives a sense of cohesion, but you also don’t want it to be monotonous. An occasional new element is better than having all different elements throughout.

7. Be Open to Change

Unless you’re strongly devoted to something, be honest about what you like—and what may fall out of favor. Even discovering elements once liked that no longer reflects your style—it’s okay to take those out and try something new.

Remember: Patience is key to landscape design for beginners. If all of that bare space is too much to look at, and the kids and dogs are tracking in mud, rely on temporary solutions—annuals, mulch, fast-growing ground covers—to cover an area while you’re figuring out what you want. Rely on annuals and small perennials as you’re waiting for larger plants to fill in. You can always move them if you realize they’re in the wrong spot later on.

By Kelly Roberson for BHG.com©

The most inflammatory foods you can put in your body

Fast Food

Inflammation is complicated, and the triggers for it differ for every person. Research on inflammation is ever-evolving and complex — diet is just one of many triggers that could cause it. Sleep, for instance, can play a role, as can stress, physical activity or other aspects of your health. Certain foods and dietary patterns have also been linked to inflammation.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is an essential part of your immune system response, which occurs in response to trauma or a perceived threat. There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is not harmful. It occurs in response to an injury, such as a cut or bruise, allowing your body to heal and repair. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can be harmful. It occurs when the immune system is flared up too often. Immune activity can become the new norm. This is believed to increase risk of disease over time. Diseases linked to inflammation include (but are not limited to) diabetes, heart disease, depression, autoimmune disorders and inflammatory bowel disease.

Inflammatory foods

Research has linked excess consumption of certain foods to worsened inflammation. Were you to eat these foods on occasion, chronic inflammation probably wouldn’t happen as a result of your diet. Were you to eat these foods frequently or in excess, the chances of inflammation are much higher. It’s hard to say that eating one specific food “causes” inflammation, cancer, diabetes or another other health condition. Rather, research focuses on broader dietary patterns and long-term outcomes. But it’s still good to know which foods cause inflammation so you can be aware of your eating patterns and stay informed. Here are some foods linked to chronic inflammation.


There are different types and sources of sugar, but the most common sugar present in the American diet is sucrose. Sucrose has been linked to inflammation in multiple studies, as it seems to impair anti-inflammatory processes in the body. Sugars are present not only in more concentrated sources such as soda and baked goods, but also in other products you eat daily. While eating some sugar isn’t going to kill you, eating too much sugar is going to cause some not-so-great symptoms, as well as negative health effects over time.

High-fructose corn syrup

Glucose and fructose are two types of simple sugars. While sucrose is made of around 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose, high-fructose corn syrup has more fructose than glucose. This type of sugar is a common ingredient in many processed foods. Studies have shown that while high-fructose corn syrup is not any worse that sucrose in terms of inflammation, it still causes a similar amount.


Margarine is a type of fat that is solid at room temperature and used as a replacement for butter. Margarine often contains trans fats, which have been shown to cause inflammation and increase risk of disease. Any product with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil will contain trans fats. Since trans fats have been phased out of most foods, there are types of margarine available that do not have trans fats.


Shortening, like margarine, is a fat that is solid at room temperature. Also like margarine, it was traditionally made with hydrogenated oils linked to inflammation. Some brands have reduced the amount of trans fats used in production to a level that permits the label “zero trans fats.” But this label is permitted so long as the amount of trans fats is below 0.5 grams. The shortening you buy with this label may still have trace amounts of trans fats. A better way to ensure you’re steering clear of these harmful compounds? Read the ingredients list. If trans fats are present, the hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil will be listed on the label.

Microwave popcorn

In general, popcorn is actually quite a healthy snack. But, though you might think they’re all the same, there’s a ton of variety in the types of buttered popcorn you see at the supermarket. While most do not, some kinds still contain partially hydrogenated oils — and, as a result, trans fats.

Fried foods

Fried foods, particularly those from fast food joints, may contain trans fats. It was once common practice to use trans fats in frying oil intentionally, because those oils last longer in the fryer. But the vegetable oils most chains now use contain small amounts of trans fat, and the more the oil is reused, the more trans fats will be present. Hidden trans fats are just one of the many things fast food companies don’t want you to know about.

Store-bought baked goods

Mass-produced baked goods such as mini pies, doughnuts and cakes are two-fold offenders when it comes to inflammation. The excess sugars could be inflammatory, and those snack cakes might also include trans fats. Not all of these products contain trans fats, and the number of products that do has declined rapidly in recent years. However, some products made with them still exist.

Vegetable and seed oils

Vegetable and seed oils contain larger amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. These fats are important for your health, but some people eat too many of them. An excess of omega-6 fatty acids is thought to increase inflammation, and some studies support this. However, some other studies show that there is insufficient evidence to support the idea that omega-6 fatty acids have an effect on inflammatory markers. Most experts agree that more research is needed before any official recommendations can be made.

Refined carbohydrates

Not all carbohydrate sources affect the body in the same way. Carbs in general can be really good for you — they’re the body’s preferred source of energy, and many carb-heavy foods such as wheat bread, brown rice, potatoes and fruit contain important nutrients and benefits. Cutting out carbohydrates can have all kinds of strange effects on your body. Refined carbohydrates are a category of foods that have had most of the fiber removed. Fiber is beneficial for your gut bacteria and aids in digestion. Studies show that eating refined carbohydrates in excess can cause inflammation in the body. It’s thought that the lack of fiber can contribute to the growth of “bad” bacteria in the gut that fuel inflammation.


There are a number of reasons drinking too much alcohol is bad for you, and this is one of them. In addition to alcohol’s link to cancer and other diseases, studies have shown that alcohol significantly increases inflammatory markers. The more alcohol you drink, the worse the inflammatory response becomes.

Grilled meat

When meats are cooked at high temperatures, they produce compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). At low levels, your body can eliminate these compounds from your system efficiently enough to prevent harm. However, if you eat too many of them, there can be consequences. Studies show that ingesting large amounts of AGEs can increase inflammation. Eating too many grilled meats or meats cooked at higher temperatures can result in inflammation, even though grilling is otherwise thought of as a typically healthy method of cooking. Red meat contains more AGEs than grilled chicken, though the compounds are present in both.

Processed meat

Like grilled meats, processed meats tend to have more AGEs than other types. AGEs aren’t the only concern with processed meat — here are some additional things you should know about how they can impact your health.

Foods you’re allergic to

Inflammation is actually an immune response. Histamines trigger inflammation. So when you eat foods that you’re allergic to, inflammation occurs as a result. If you are often exposed to an allergen you respond to, research shows you may experience chronic inflammation, which can in turn cause other health issues. Allergies are often misunderstood, and people will erroneously self-diagnose. If you suspect you may be allergic to a food, talk to your doctor.




What to Clean if You Only Have 10 Minutes


Photo by Emily Fazio

Sanitize the Remotes, Switches, and Doorknobs

Take a moment to consider how infrequently you clean the doorknobs and light switches. Wiping them with a disinfecting cloth cuts down on the spread of germs, and quite obviously is an excellent use of your time. Forget about finding 10 free minutes, though. This 10-minute chore is the perfect multitasking opportunity (like when you’re on the phone with your mom, or waiting for dinner to get out of the oven).

There’s more at:


How to Stop Eating So Much Sugar

By Marty Munson


Luxy ImagesGetty Image

When it comes to cutting back on sugar, there are people and experts who swear by going cold turkey, and others who are sure the only way to make it happen is to cut back a little at a time. Which is better? It depends on your natural style. You generally know if you’re a person who can handle small steps or prefers to just go jump into a different way of eating, and each approach can work to get the extra sugar out, says Karen Ansel, R.D.N., author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging.

We say “extra sugar,” because while sugar is the villain du jour, experts aren’t saying you have to cut out sugar entirely. They’re just recommending that men limit added sugars to about 9 teaspoons (or 150 calories, or 36 grams) a day. (The sugar in fruit doesn’t count as “added sugar.”) Most people eat more than that, which invites a host of health and wellness issues. So it’s smart to cut back. Here’s how to make it happen, according to your style.

If You Want to Cut Out Sugar Cold Turkey

Get sugary foods out of your cabinets.

To oust those foods from your diet, get them out of your home and give them away. “If they’re not there, it’s going to be a lot easier for you,” Ansel says.

Plan to “cheat.”

If you’re an all or nothing person, then while you’re doing very little sugar, go ahead and plan an “all” moment. Knowing you’ll have sugar at some point can help you get through not having it most of the time. If you do decide to have a few sweets a week, Ansel says, “there are a few things you’ve got to do. First of all, plan in advance when you’ll have it. And plan exactly what you’re going to have,” she says. Then—and this is critical—“you have to eat it out of the house someplace. Go where you have to order it so you can’t go back for seconds,” Ansel says.

Plan your non-sugar “sugar rush.”

What are you going to do to give yourself the things that sugar has been doing for you? If sugar gives you an afternoon rush, then you might get a similar rush with tea or coffee. If you eat a pint of ice cream right after work as a habitual way to unwind, then think of what else you can do—and where else you can be—during that time. “Most of us can pinpoint when we’re eating the foods that we wish we weren’t eating,” says Ansel. So think through your day to the places where you reach for sugar the most, and set up some strategies for what else you could be doing instead.

If You Want to Cut Out Sugar Gradually

Look for the low-hanging sugars.

“Take a look at where the sugar in your diet is coming from and see if there are places you can easily cut back on it,” Ansel says. If you’re eating a lot of sweetened yogurt, you could get a minimally sweetened one and add some toppings, like real fruit. “You can still have things that taste sweet but aren’t drowning in sugar,” she says. There may be more opportunities than you think to trim a little. “We’re not just getting sugar from one source, so those little things can add up to a lot.”

Ask yourself, “what’s the very least I can get away with?”

For instance, if you pour syrup on your pancakes, start by measuring how much you usually pour. “Most people are surprised to find out that they’re pouring something like a quarter of a cup of syrup onto their pancakes,” she says. It doesn’t seem like that much when you’re pouring it. Instead of using that much, try spooning a tablespoon over them. If that looks skimpy, then use two tablespoons—“that’s still half as much as you were having before,” Ansel points out.

Beware skimping.

Don’t just cut out sugar. Add something else good where sugar used to be. So when you’re pouring that syrup, you could try having a tablespoon of it and adding a half of a banana on top. You’re still getting sweetness without that sugar dump. Even better, you’re not just cutting syrup; you’re adding flavor. It works the same with other foods, even dessert. Instead of just cutting back how much you eat, pair it with something else. You might have a few squares of dark chocolate with a plate of pineapple or some nuts, Ansel says. Or if your habit was to eat four or five cookies, then try having two with a glass of milk. Don’t just subtract. Substitute.

No Matter How You Tackle It

Everyone needs to do this:

Be aware of what you’re drinking.

“We walk around with something to drink all the time” Ansel says. “And more often than not, those drinks have tremendous amounts of sugar.” Even if you don’t drink soda or juice. Iced teas, sweet coffee drinks—they can have more sugar than a soda. If you have to have your tea sweetened, buy the unsweetened stuff and add your own, smaller serving of sugar to it. Or sprinkle cinnamon over your coffee in place of some of the sweet stuff. Or add a ton of ice to whatever you’re about to drink. “That will slow you down, it dilutes the drink, and you won’t feel deprived” Ansel says.

Do aim to get the sugar out, but don’t stress about it so much along the way (Ansel isn’t the only nutritionist who thinks this). “If there’s a spectrum of healthy eating, most of us are at one end and healthy is at another. Just to get to the middle would be amazing.”


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